In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the California Prune Board reflected on the various women throughout the prune industry who drive continuous growth and improvement for the organization and the consumption of prunes. In critical roles including Growers, Chief Executive Officers, Researchers, and Directors, women across the prune business are shaping the decisions that define an industry.
“Demand for California Prunes has steadily increased in the past two years and historically women have been the primary purchasers of prunes,” said Kiaran Locy, Director of Brand & Industry Communications. “The truth is prunes are enjoyed by everyone and the women in our industry are tenacious and their insights and expertise are keeping us relevant and moving us forward.”
These 5 industry leaders within the California Prune industry, provide valuable direction and insight across a variety of professions:
- LindaKay Abdulian is the President and CEO at National Raisin Company and has worked in the prune business for over 10 years.
“Agriculture is a tough industry. The people involved are trenchant and as a woman in a dominant man’s world, you prepare for every encounter. The prune industry is no exception. The players are the best in the business, man, or women. You come prepared and you will succeed.”
- Sandie Mitchell is a California Prune Grower who has been growing prunes for 44 years. She is also an Executive Committee Member for the California Prune Board
“Women are very quality oriented. When it comes to our families, we only want the best. As a California Prune grower, we have dedicated our farming operation throughout the years to growing a premium product for the consumer.”
- Sarah Bradley Castro is a Staff Research Associate at UC Davis and has led the prune breeding program since 2008.
“I continue to be inspired by the growing number of women in agriculture and agricultural research. In my working with UC Davis, California Women in Agriculture, and the Prune Board it is clear the innovation and energy women bring to the industry will carry us forward to a successful future.”
- Natalie Mariani Kling is the Marketing Manager for Mariani premium dried fruit and a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. As a 4th Generation Mariani, she has been working in the prune business since she could walk steadily through the orchards.
“Working with real, whole food is an honor and a responsibility. Mother Nature is no joke, and we rely on the great women (and men) in our industry who sow their time, expertise, and commitment into growing food that families around the world can enjoy. As a nutritionist, prunes have a special place in my heart. They may be one of superfood’s best kept secrets. Watch out world!”
- Esther Ritson-Elliott is the Director of International Marketing & Communications with the California Prune Board. She has worked with the organization for over 30 years.
“Agriculture itself is often perceived as a ‘male’ career, yet figures published in 2017 reveal that more than one third of U.S. farmers are women, and over half of all farms have at least one female decision maker. That equates to 1.2 million female producers making a significant contribution to U.S. agricultural sales, including those working in the prune industry. I make it my mission to share the fruits of their labor, promoting the commitment, passion and contribution of our prune growers and championing their work – male and female alike.”
Building awareness that drives consumption for California Prunes starts with a premium product and strategic approach. The California Prune industry invests in nutrition and crop research as well as building global markets for the promotion of prunes. California is the world’s largest producer of prunes and supplies over 90% of the prunes in the U.S. and 40% of the world’s production.
The California Prune Board recognizes the extensive contributions of every woman across the industry and acknowledges the value each of them brings through their individual experiences and perspectives. These leading women in the prune industry will be featured on social media @CaliforniaPrunes on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and on the organization’s U.S. LinkedIn profile and European LinkedIn profile reaching consumers and the trade in honor of International Women’s Day this March.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA PRUNE BOARD
The California Prune Board was established in 1952 to represent growers and handlers under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. California is the world’s largest producer of prunes with orchards across 14 counties in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Promoting a lifetime of wellness through the enjoyment of California Prunes, the organization leads the premium prune category with generations of craftsmanship supported by California’s leading food safety and sustainability standards. California Prunes. Prunes. For life.